Bulgaria’s Prosecutors Shrug off Scandalous Top Appointment in Customs

Domestic | September 2, 2013, Monday // 16:28|  views

Popov is a longtime employee of the Ministry of Interior, where he headed the unit for fighting organized crime in the capital Sofia. Photo by Finance Ministry

Bulgaria’s prosecutors have surprisingly refused to probe the controversial appointment of the country’s Customs Agency deputy head.

Nikolay Popov was named Deputy Director of Bulgarian Customs Agency in charge of customs intelligence and investigations despite being stripped of classified information clearance.

“His deprivation of clearance does not mean that we can consider it as committing a deliberate crime under article 359 of the Criminal Code (which deals with revealing state secrets or foreign classified information)”, Rumyana Arnaudova, speaker of Sofia's General Prosecutor’s Office, explained on Monday.

Her statement came as a response to an inquiry by local Dnevnik daily.

Nikolay Popov has been stripped from classified information clearance in 2009 at the time he was the Chief of the Sofia Regional Directorate for Fighting Organized Crime (RZBOP), known as the anti-mafia police, after an internal affairs investigation led to suspicions he was in touch with people from the underworld.

Popov appealed the decision before the State Commission for Information Security, but its probe proved there was enough reasonable doubt to deny him access to classified information.

The job description for the post of Customs Head lists security clearance as one of the requirements for it.

Reinstating a right to access classified information to someone will be a precedent in Bulgaria.

As OFFNews points out, it remains unclear why someone without security clearance has been even appointed as Customs Deputy Director since the post calls for frequent communications with OLAF and partner services, who are banned from sharing information with people without such clearance.

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Tags: Bulgaria’s interior ministry, Nikolay Popov, customs, Agency


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